Annapurna Devi’s solely function in life was to go on her father Ustad Allauddin Khan’s taalim
Annapurna Devi shunned the limelight in her lifetime. Now, for her second dying anniversary (October 13), her nephew Ustad Aashish Khan and his College of World Music have organised a programme to pay tribute to the reclusive genius.
To be held on October 11, the programme additionally celebrates the reminiscence of Aashish’s late youthful brother, Ustad Dhyanesh Khan, whose sarodist-son Shiraz Ali, helps to place it collectively.
California-based Aashish Khan educated periodically underneath his aunt. “When my grandfather was away, pishima (Annapurna) was accountable for our instructing and follow. She was systematic and used to herself play on the tabla bayan to assist us preserve the laya. She used to show us vocal dhrupad compositions, horis, taranas in addition to instrumental gats. Instructing was in response to the season — raags like Basant, Paraj in spring and Malhars in monsoon. I used to be first taught aalap by her; additionally the ‘da ra da ra’ bols which aren’t genuine sarod baaj. We miss her so much.”
Expertise by listening to
One in all Annapurna Devi’s most interesting disciples is Jodhpur-based sarodist, Pt. Basant Kabra, who belongs to a household of businessmen and classical music connoisseurs. The laconic musician paints a heart-warming image of his guru.
“Guru ma was round 53 once I first went to study from her. A surbahar exponent, she by no means performed the instrument when instructing us. Perhaps a few times she picked up the instrument to show one thing that I couldn’t perceive. Ma taught me a bit of surbahar baaj (approach) too, and the right maintain of the sitar. Her precedence in life was to go on the taalim she had imbibed from her father.”
Annapurna Devi was explicit about what sort of music must be performed on which instrument. Tayyari ke taan, zamzama, bol kaari are meant for sitar whereas aalap and gamak are meant for surbahar.
“Ma used to at all times say, ‘Think about what I’m instructing you a few raag and notice its utilization, don’t go into technicalities. And don’t strive explaining its construction to others; our gharana’s raags are dealt with in another way. One can solely expertise them by listening to. You’ll be able to’t verbalise what I train you to play; it might probably solely be conveyed via your music,” remembers Basant.
One in all her favorite raags was Manjh Khamaj, created by her legendary father, Ustad Allaudin Khan. “She would say the raag helps beat tiredness, however one hears it solely in its lighter type now, as one thing to finish a live performance with. . She taught it absolutely solely to a couple disciples. She as soon as instructed me she herself had not mastered easy methods to play the raag the best way her Baba had conceived it,” says Basant.
Annapurna Devi additionally liked raags which might be ‘madhyam pradhan’. Her father, in truth, created raag Kausi Bhairav for her. “She defined to me how this raag is just like Adana and Darbari. And that raags Kausi Kanhra and Kausi Bhairav will not be the identical. She additionally instructed me that Ustad Allauddin Khan taught raag Darbari solely to 3 of his disciples — Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and her.
A demanding guru
“My guru was very tough to study from; she would keep in mind precisely what she had taught 5 years in the past. She didn’t ever need to be recorded. And even photographed; there is only one picture of hers in recent times. However I do know she was recorded; as a result of she wrote down what she recorded in a pocket book that she wrote in Bangla. (This has been translated into English by Swapan Kumar Bondyopadhyay in The Unheard Melody.). These recordings had been carried out within the Forties. She recorded Ragas Puriya and Gara, which I’ve by no means heard.”
Recalling her sharp ear, Basant says she would name out from the kitchen when cooking to verify the ‘pancham tarab’. “Think about, not even a notice on the primary wire however on the sympathetic wire. She was a tremendous individual, not only a improbable musician. She by no means criticised different musicians. My final reminiscence of her is on Guru Purnima, earlier than she handed away. She requested me to take a seat by her mattress and play raag Yaman. Regardless of figuring out her so nicely, I by no means understood many issues about her — why she by no means created raags and why she was so reclusive,” says Basant, as his voice peters off and he will get misplaced in recollections.
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writes on Hindustani music and musicians.